The Conservative government needs to stop living in an ideological past that no longer exists and support a national child care program, says the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) today. The AFL President was participating at news conference with Public Interest Alberta to pressure the provincial government to sign a deal with the federal government on child care. The AFL is Alberta's largest labour organization, representing over 113,000 workers and their families.
"The Conservatives need to pull their heads out of the sand and realize that the 'leave-it-to-beaver' era is over and that most mothers simply can't afford to stay home full-time with their kids," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "54% of families with pre-schoolers have both parents working. There is a great need for quality, affordable child care in this province."
The new reality that families need two incomes to make ends meet, McGowan points out, means the government has a responsibility to the 117,000 families needing child care. "And that responsibility is to ensure a strong supply of affordable, high quality child care spaces."
McGowan says that government arguments claiming parents don't want centre-based child care don't stand up to scrutiny. "First, there are not enough spaces currently available. Second, if you have to pay $600 to $700 per month per child, quite frankly that is more than most Albertans can afford. It is not a real choice."
McGowan challenges the government to test their ideological assumptions. "If you build affordable child care, they will come. That is why we cannot afford to squander this historic opportunity. The province needs to sign a deal with the federal government as soon as possible - one that provides for adequate funding for non-profit, affordable, high-quality child care."
McGowan also raised the issue of low pay for child care workers. "Child care workers are the backbone of the system, but we pay them the same as people who pump gas. That needs to change." McGowan points out that early childhood educators earn $10.37 an hour on average.
"If we ever hope to build a real child care system in this province, one that parents can have confidence in, then we are going to have to accept the idea that we need a public system that is generously funded, and that pays child care workers the wages they deserve," McGowan concluded.
- 30 -
For More Information
Gil McGowan, President, 915-4599 (cell)